Sunday, 5 August 2012

Steampunk Literature

Lately I wondered about interesting Steampunk literature.


Steampunk is a term that - paralleling the word Cyberpunk invented by Bruce Bethke - denotes work featuring a certain punk attitude in combination with a core technology. While in the case of cyberpunk it is the nowadays prevalent electronic technology, steampunk takes a bit more revisionist and romantic approach by making the steam engine the primary driving force behind most technical development.

This makes for visually striking imagery but appears to us today less plausible. This (and the appealing idea that common people can with some training repair everything) helps in popularizing the basic ideas of the steampunk concept. But it also seems to be a reason that steampunk has until late largely refined to visual art forms like movies (my favorite one featuring steampunk concepts so far as I have seen remains La Cité des enfants perdus), animes and comics.

So what about written fiction?

I have decided to create a small list of Steampunk literature that I will try to get and read it and I will eventually post reviews on each book thus processed on this blog.

One book that I actually do own myself is The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. One early example of steampunk writing is Michael Moorcock's A Nomad of the Time Streams trilogy published between 1971 and 1981.

More recent additions to the genre is the work of Stephen Hunt's Jackelian fantasy series. Another novel that was placed in the steampunk tradition by none other than Moorcock himself is The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry.

The difficulty seems also to be that due to its nature (and close relation to the Victorian era) steampunk is frequently mixed with gothic horror, supernatural romance and/or written as young adults literature neither of which is necessarily bad but also dilutes the idea of steampunk (that I like).

The Difference Engine
The Warlord of the Air
The Land Leviathan
A Nomad Of Time Streams
The Court of the Air
The Manual of Detection
Writing Steampunk Widgets

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